Swedish government signs on to Second Life

Stockholm (Sweden) - Second Life has moved beyond the novelty of playing host to virtual ad space for companies, with an entire country now vying for attention in the online world. A virtual Swedish embassy will be making a presence in the game, with full support from the country's government.

The Swedish Foreign Ministry, the government body in charge of promoting travel and tourism for Sweden, will oversee the virtual project, which is reported to be the first of its kind for the Scandinavian country.

"We're constantly trying to reach new groups of people with information about Sweden. This is a very simple and cheap way to reach a large group of younger, educated people who are flooded with information," said Olle Wastberg, the director of the Swedish Institute.

According to the Associated Press, the building inside Second Life will be a replica of the House of Sweden embassy in Washington, DC, and will have interactive displays that allow users to view official websites about Sweden, and will even be staffed with real representatives from the Swedish Institute to chat with users in the game.

Sweden is not the first government-sanctioned presence in Second Life. Last year, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) set up shop in the digital world, providing real-time weather information to users. Second Life has also become the host of virtual environments for several major companies, including Dell, Sun Microsystems, and IBM. Even Reuters, the international news wire organization, created a "virtual island" in the online landscape.